Bolton to discuss Syria, Iran on trip to Turkey and Israel

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Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

WASHINGTON — U.S. national security adviser John Bolton says he will travel to Israel and Turkey to discuss the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria and how Washington and its allies intend to counter Iran’s “malign behavior” in the region.

U.S. national security adviser John Bolton. / Mzia Saganelidze/RFE/RL

In a tweet posted on Jan. 3, Bolton also said he will discuss ways to prevent the “resurgence” of the Islamic State (ISIS) militant group in the region.

Bolton said he will be accompanied by Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, for the talks in Turkey.

John Bolton @AmbJohnBolton

Leaving tomorrow for Israel & Turkey to discuss the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Syria, how we will work with allies & partners to prevent the resurgence of ISIS, stand fast with those who fought with us against ISIS, & counter Iranian malign behavior in the region. 1/2

U.S. President Donald Trump on Dec. 19 surprised U.S. lawmakers and many military leaders when he announced he would pull all 2,000 U.S. forces from Syria, where they have been assisting a Kurdish militia in rooting out IS fighters from that country.

In recent days, Trump has backed down from a rushed pullout and said the withdrawal would be gradual.

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham told reporters Trump was committed to making sure Turkey did not clash with the U.S.-backed Kurdish YPG forces once U.S. troops leave Syria.

Graham also said Trump had assured Ankara that it would have a buffer zone inside Syria to help protect its own interests.

Ankara sees the YPG as an extension of the banned Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in Turkey and has vowed to crush it.

Israel has expressed concerns that a U.S. pullout from Syria could allow Iran to consolidate its presence there and pose a risk to its security.